Should I Buy a Used Corolla? It’s a smart move


First rolled off the production lines in 1966, the Toyota Corolla has been the world’s best-selling model since 1997. In fact, it first became the best seller in 1974, beating Volkswagen Beetle. Currently celebrating its 55th year, the sales surpassed the 50 million mark in August 2021. Lately, the famous valuation and automotive research company Kelley Blue Book called it the best used compact car under $20,000.

A used Toyota Corolla with average mileage and complete service history is an excellent buy. Corolla’s attractive styling, good fuel economy, reliability, durability, and affordable price make it a solid used car choice.

In this post, we’ll look at why you should buy a used Toyota Corolla and how to avoid buying a lemon.

Toyota Showrooms

Reasons To Buy a Used Corolla

Wide Selection

According to some studies, a vehicle with a Corolla nameplate sells every 40 seconds in the world. For a car with the most sales in the world, its used models are in abundance. Moreover, you can find it in different body styles, including sedan, hatchback, estate wagon, and even crossover.

With so many choices available for customers, you should have no issue finding the perfect match.

Dependability and Simplicity of Service

Corolla’s are famous for reliability and ease of repair. Its been around for many decades, finding spare parts and accessories isn’t difficult and won’t burn your wallet either. A Corolla is just so easy to live with, and that’s why it’s so successful.

Excellent Value

The world regards Corolla for its simplicity and practicality. While we do not deny it, some buyers undervalue the vehicle’s driving experience, until of course they actually drive it. The Corolla has earned its fame for a reason, it’s a great driving car.

The 2018 Corolla is possibly the best-used sedan you could buy. It has everything from LED headlights, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls to a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune multimedia package. It is not only affordable and reliable with plenty of standard facilities, but is also very safe. From 2015 onwards, Toyota is equipping every Corolla with the Safety Sense suite.

Efficiency

I admit the Corolla is not a powerful vehicle in the compact sedan and hatchback classes, but nobody can deny its efficiency. The 2020 Corolla returns a maximum of 35 and 52 MPG combined, respectively for gasoline and hybrid models. The older models like 2017, 2018 deliver 31 mpg combined. These figures aren’t bad for a family car. 

Common Issues With Corollas

While the Corolla is a popular, reliable, and affordable car, it is not completely free from issues… well no car is.

Check engine light due to EVAP problem.

Although check engine light can appear for various reasons, the most common one for Corolla is due to the fault in the evaporative emission (EVAP) system. The EVAP issues aren’t easy to diagnose, so you’ll need a technician with a smoke machine. Common reasons for EVAP problems are loose or worn gas caps and failed charcoal canisters. This issue may cost you around $350 for repair.

Shift problem in automatic transmission

A higher mileage Corolla with around 125,000 miles reading may pose shifting issues in automatic transmission. It could be due to a faulty shift solenoid, or your throttle position sensor may require attention after years of driving.

Luckily, you do not have to change the whole transmission system, but you should be aware of this issue when buying a slightly older Corolla with a few miles on the clock.

Daytime running light problem

Available on relatively newer Corolla models, the daytime running light is an excellent feature to improve the visibility of your vehicle on the road. Some customers complain about lights flickering or dying, lights turning on unintentionally and exhausting the battery, and lights not turning off after they turn off the ignition. The solution may cost you around $100 to repair.

Faulty mass airflow sensor

One of the more expensive repairs a high-mileage Corolla may cause is a defective mass airflow sensor. You can detect this fault in two ways: first, it may turn on the check engine light, and second, you may find that the car lacks in the Omph department.

Cleaning the airflow sensor with electrical contact clear often solves the issue, or the sensor may need to be replaced. It’s a simple job that won’t take more than thirty minutes or so. If you have to replace it, expect to spend about $250 to $350.

The vehicle doesn’t crank

Engine won’t crank over – Commonly happens to higher mileage Corollas with (over 100,000 miles). The starter motor solenoid (or the starter motor itself) is the usual root cause of the no start.

The repair will set you back by roughly $275 to $500, depending on the which has failed.

Which Corolla Model Years You Should Buy

Toyota Corolla dashboard

2015-Present

If you are serious about owning a Toyota for a long haul, a newer Corolla costing around $14,000 to $20,000 (prices vary according to condition, mileage, features, etc.) should fit the bill. These are a little costlier than the older models, but they retain their value exceptionally well. With consistently high-reliability ratings, ample safety features, connectivity, and a good fuel efficiency score (30-city/40-highway mpg), the newer models may offer the best value for money.

2011-2013

The 10th-generation Toyota Corolla is a cheaper option available for around $10,000-$12,000. The best thing about them is their fuel economy rating of (27-city/34-highway mpg). They mostly have all baseline features today’s drivers need in their vehicles.

2007-2008

The 9th-generation (2003-2008) Corolla under $10,000, making these an excellent choice if you are on a budget. Again, the fuel efficiency figure of 27-city/33-highway mpg is superb for an old car.

Remember, 2007-2008 models had some reliability issues, so make sure you thoroughly check the vehicle before purchase. However, on the upside, the 9th-gen models sported a longer wheelbase, offering passengers more space.

Before You Buy

The used Corolla, like any other secondhand vehicle, requires pre-inspection and history check before your purchase. Additionally, you should ensure the car has addressed its recalls, primarily related to brake and airbag performance. The 2009-2011 Corollas had some safety issues, and Toyota made many recalls in this regard. The 2012 and onward Corollas are better options if you give priority to safety.

Before buying a used Corolla, or any vehicle, it’s always worth investing just a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

You may find this post useful:

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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